Does Intervention in African Indigenous Vegetables Value Chain Improve Production and Welfare Outcomes Amidst Covid-19 Pandemic? Evidence From Western Kenya
Keywords:African vegetables, impacts, income, nutrition
Agricultural growth and development is key to poverty reduction and food security in Kenya. Several studies have examined impact of agricultural interventions based on observational data. The findings from such studies are likely to be influenced by unobserved attributes resulting in biased estimation of causal relationships between interventions and impacts. We conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial to estimate unbiased impacts of a multifaceted training-based and seed provision interventions in African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) (Cowpea, spider plant, Amaranth, Nightshade, slender leaf) value chains. The intervention focused on production and utilization of AIVs in conjunction with behaviour change communication and linking farmers to markets in western Kenya. Using household two round of panel data (2018 and 2021) from 269 households (control n=139 and intervention n=130) and cross-sectional data on impact of COVID-19, we evaluated impacts of the interventions relative to control in terms of land area allocation to AIVs, total leaf production, AIVs income and household dietary diversity (HDD). The empirical estimation using descriptive statistics and Analysis of Variance revealed that households exposed to the intervention significantly increased area under AIVs by 38% (p<0.01) and total leaf production by 46% (p<0.05). Spider plant had highest percentage increase in area at 60%. However, there is no evidence of impact on AIVs income and food security as indicated by HDD. This evidence is consistent with finding that only 21% of the household sold AIVs; and 69% and 68% in control and treatment arms self-reported that their food systems were disrupted by Covid-19 pandemic. The study concludes that the hypothesis that the intervention was to have a win-win for food and nutrition security, income and production has mixed results. We reccommend that similar interventions should include components to integrate capacity of households to adapt to risks such as Covid-19 pandemic and include cost-benefit analysis.